Your Show of Shows


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About

Your Show of Shows, was a Saturday night fixture for four years, adopting a similar format of comedy monologues, skits, and parodies of movies and plays. But this program was less a showcase for guest stars than for Caesar and Coca, ably supported by Carl Reiner (who replaced Tom Avera after the first season) and Howard Morris (who joined a season later). Writers Mel Tolkin, Lucille Kallen, and Mel Brooks, choreographer James Starbuck, set designer Frederick Fox, and conductor Charles Sanford were all Admiral alumni; the other writers completed a Who's Who of post-World War II American comedy--Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H TV series), Bill Persky and Sam Denoff (The Dick Van Dyke Show), Neil Simon, and also Joe Stein (Fiddler on the Roof) and Mike Stewart (Hello, Dolly and Bye, Bye Birdie). The writing sessions were reputedly raucous and sometimes even violent, splitting up into groups of two or three who competed with one another, all fighting for attention and success--with the possible exception of Simon, whispering his suggestions to Reiner, who would repeat them to the group. It has long been reported that Woody Allen worked on the show, though this has recently been suggested to be untrue.

The show included a large cast of regular singers and dancers, and was originally the New York half of a larger overall show, NBC's Saturday Night Revue. (Jack Carter hosted a Chicago portion an hour earlier.) At the end of the first season, Carter and the umbrella title were dropped, and Caesar and company went on to perform some 160 telecasts--all live, original comedy. Both raucous and urbane, combined revue and sketch comedy with a rather sophisticated sense of satire and parody, especially for early TV: how many other programs of this era would have conceived a spoof of Italian Neorealist cinema?

Caesar, notorious for his deviations from the script, was skilled at mime, dialects, monologues, foreign language double-talk, and general comic acting. Whether alone, paired with Coca, or part of the four-man repertory group, he excelled. Not a rapid-fire jokester like Berle or Fred Allen, Caesar was often compared in the press to the likes of Chaplin, Fields, or Raimu. The 90-minute show usually featured a guest host (who played a minor role), at least two production numbers, sketches between Caesar and Coca, the showcase parody of a popular film (e.g., "Aggravation Boulevard," "From Here to Obscurity"), further sketches (as many as ten per show), Caesar in monologue or pantomime (e.g., an expectant father in the waiting room, the autobiography of a gum-ball machine), and the entire company in a production number. The most famous characters included Charlie and Doris Hickenlooper, a mis-matched married couple; The Professor, a Germanic expert scientist in everything and nothing; storyteller Somerset Winterset; jazz musicians Cool C's and Progress Hornsby; and the mechanical figures of the great clock of Baverhoff, Bavaria, striking one another in addition to the hour.

-Mark Williams

Highlights
Sid Caesar on the Your Show of Shows ensemble: Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris
Larry Gelbart on the influence Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows had on him, then later writing for Caesar's Hour
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on a favorite sketch from Your Show of Shows for which he did an elaborate "fall"
Greg Garrison on what it was like directing Your Show of Shows week to week
Marge Champion on the feeling right before going on "live" TV for Your Show of Shows  (which she appeared on with Gower Champion)
Lucille Kallen on the pressure of the production of Your Show of Shows
Who talked about this show

Paul Bogart

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Paul Bogart briefly on being a stage manager on Your Show of Shows

Sid Caesar

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Sid Caesar on the Your Show of Shows ensemble: Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris
Sid Caesar on the Your Show of Show sketch "The Hickenloopers"
Sid Caesar on being mentored by NBC exec Pat Weaver in the early days of television
Sid Caesar on working with Your Show of Shows co-star Imogene Coca
Sid Caesar on NBC's popular Saturday night comedy line-up in 1950
Sid Caesar on the big budget given to Your Show of Shows
Sid Caesar on the experience of "live TV" and his insistence that no cue cards be used on his shows
Sid Caesar on a workweek of Your Show of Shows
Sid Caesar on how the writer's used their personal experiences to create sketches as in the sketch "Six tickets"
Sid Caesar on the camraderie and mutual respect between the cast and crew of Your Show of Shows (and how quickly scene changes were made in "live TV")
Sid Caesar on skipping a rehearsal to relieve tensions when less experienced crew fill-ins were used during a strike on Your Show of Shows
Sid Caesar on accidentally being dressed in the wrong costume in a sketch during the "live" performance
Sid Caesar on a sketch idea for Your Show of Shows which originated with Imogene Coca 
Sid Caesar on how Your Show of Show's parody of From Here to Eternity ("From Here to Obscurity") became the source of a lawsuit
Sid Caesar on the Your Show of Shows parody of the movie The Story of Vernon & Irene Castle
Sid Caesar on the Your Show of Shows parody of the movie The Lost Weekend
Sid Caesar on standards and practices in 1950s TV 
Sid Caesar on the rehearsal schedule for Your Show of Shows
Sid Caesar on forgetting Basil Rathbone's name while introducing him as the guest star on Your Show of Shows
Sid Caesar on the writing talent of Larry Gelbart and his sketch idea of hip musician "Progress Hornsby" on Your Show of Shows
Sid Caesar on his classic Your Show of Shows character "The Professor"
Sid Caesar on one of the Your Show of Shows "The Hickenloopers" sketches wherein the wife slowly reveals to the husband that she has crashed the car
Sid Caesar on the pantomimes he did on Your Show of Shows
Sid Caesar on the opera parodies (with Italian double-talk) he did on Your Show of Shows
Sid Caesar on the Your Show of Shows foreign film parodies, including one on "The Bicycle Thief"
Sid Caesar on the Your Show of Shows parody of Shane
Sid Caesar on a painful gaffe on "live TV" during a Your Show of Shows parody of High Noon
Sid Caesar on winning the Emmy Award in 1952 on the same day his son was born— learning he'd won at the hospital
Sid Caesar on being uncomfortable when he was out of character
Sid Caesar on how the pressures of television led to alcoholism
Sid Caesar on a typical workweek on Your Show of Shows
Sid Caesar on the physical toll of doing a 90-minute live show and the recognition of learning from mistakes
Sid Caesar on the change of venues (to a bigger theater) for Your Show of Shows and his fight to have a monitor installed
Sid Caesar on an infamous case of losing his temper with Mel Brooks during the run of Your Show of Shows
Sid Caesar on his philosophy of keeping a creative flow during the writing process
Sid Caesar on the cancellation of Your Show of Shows and the start of Caesar's Hour
Sid Caesar on striving for the best material on Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour
Sid Caesar on striving for the best material on Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour
Sid Caesar on Your Show of Show's co-star Imogene Coca, and their rapport together
Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows writer Mel Tolkin
Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows co-star Carl Reiner (and Reiner and Mel Brooks' later "2,000 Year Old Man" sketch)
Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows /Caesar's Hour writer Neil Simon (and Simon's later play "Laughter on the 23rd Floor")
Sid Caesar on working with writer Mel Brooks on Your Show of Shows
Sid Caesar on working with performer Howard Morris on Your Show of Shows

Marge Champion

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Marge Champion on the feeling right before going on "live" TV for Your Show of Shows  (which she appeared on with Gower Champion)
Marge Champion on Gower Champion's choreography for the television camera
Marge Champion on the rehearsals for Your Show of Shows  (which she appeared on with Gower Champion)

Joan Ganz Cooney

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Joan Ganz Cooney on live television, as on Your Show of Shows

Michael Dann

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Michael Dann on early television variety shows
Michael Dann on Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver's Saturday night philosophy of television

Nanette Fabray

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Nanette Fabray on the legacy of Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour

Greg Garrison

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Greg Garrison on Your Show of Shows producer Max Liebman
Greg Garrison on the structure of Your Show of Shows and directing The Kate Smith Hour
Greg Garrison on his approach to directing performers like Gene Kelly and Sid Caesar, and on working with Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows
Greg Garrison on Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, and the rest of the cast of Your Show of Shows
Greg Garrison on the rehearsal and production process of Your Show of Shows
Greg Garrison on the biggest challenges of directing Your Show of Shows
Greg Garrison on what it was like directing Your Show of Shows week to week
Greg Garrison on leaving Your Show of Shows

Larry Gelbart

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Larry Gelbart on the influence Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows had on him, then later writing for Caesar's Hour

Skitch Henderson

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Lyle "Skitch" Henderson on working on Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar

Lucille Kallen

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Lucille Kallen on working with Imogene Coca at Tamiment in the Poconos, and on writing for Coca and Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows
Lucille Kallen on Admiral Broadway Revue and Your Show of Shows choreographer James Starbuck and other staff memeber
Lucille Kallen on Sid Caesar's temperament during the run of Your Show of Shows and on being the only female in the writers room
Lucille Kallen on working with Imogene Coca on Your Show of Shows
Lucille Kallen on working with Carl Reiner and Howard Morris on Your Show of Shows and on the live aspects of the show
Lucille Kallen on rehearsals for Your Show of Shows
Lucille Kallen on Mel Brooks on Your Show of Shows
Lucille Kallen on the "Doris and Charlie Hickenlooper" sketches on Your Show of Shows, featuring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca
Lucille Kallen on the sophistication of the comedy on Your Show of Shows
Lucille Kallen on the pressure of the production of Your Show of Shows
Lucille Kallen on the cancellation of Your Show of Shows, declining to be part of Caesar's Hour, and on writing for The Imogene Coca Show
Lucille Kallen on her decision to retire from writing for television and focus on writing novels and on Your Show of Shows having been a training ground for comedy writers

Angela Lansbury

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Angela Lansbury on appearing on Your Show of Shows as a guest

John Moffitt

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John Moffitt on going to see Your Show of Shows, live

Howard Morris

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Howard Morris on NBC executive Pat Weaver's launching of Your Show of Shows, and on how it differed in format from the previous show Admiral Broadway Revue
Howard Morris on the chemistry of the ensemble on Your Show of Shows
Howard Morris on Admiral Broadway Revue and Your Show of Shows co-star Imogene Coca, and on Carl Reiner
Howard Morris on various sketches on Your Show of Shows
Howard Morris on the writing staff of Your Show of Shows, including Mel Brooks and Larry Gelbart
Howard Morris on Your Show of Shows going off the air

Carl Reiner

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Performer/writer Carl Reiner on a favorite sketch from Your Show of Shows for which he did an elaborate "fall"
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on the seed of the idea for the "2,000 Year Old Man" from something seen on TV interview series We, the People, and how it was first "performed" by he and Mel Brooks when the two worked together on Your Show of Shows
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on initially becoming involved with Your Show of Shows as the interviewer in "the Professor" sketches
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on the writing staff of Your Show of Shows— which started with Mel Tolkin, Lucille Kallen, and Mel Brooks
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on Your Show of Shows producer Max Liebman
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on getting into the writer's room on Your Show of Shows, when he suggested a foreign movie parody
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on the early days of Your Show of Shows
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows and on Caesar's Hour
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on Your Show of Shows co-star Imogene Coca (and her working relationship with Sid Caesar)
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on Your Show of Shows co-star Howard Morris
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on knowing and working with writer Mel Brooks (on Your Show of Shows)
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on how writers Mel Tolkin and Lucille Kallen set the tone for Your Show of Shows
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on lone female Your Show of Shows writer Lucille Kallen
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on the Center Theater, where Your Show of Shows was broadcast until it was torn down
Performer/writer Carl Reiner on the end of Your Show of Shows and the beginning of Caesar's Hour

John Rich

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John Rich on wanting to work on Your Show of Shows

Heino Ripp

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Heino Ripp on acting as technical director for Admiral Broadway Revue and Your Show of Shows
Heino Ripp on Sylvester L. Weaver's relationship to Your Show of Shows

Maria Riva

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Actress Maria Riva on guesting on Your Show of Shows (when Imogene Coca was out sick)

Phil Rosenthal

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Phil Rosenthal on seeing sketches from Your Show of Shows for the first time and wanting to be Sid Caesar

Arthur Schneider

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Arthur Schneider on editing Your Show of Shows

George Shapiro

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George Shapiro on Max Liebman booking talent at Tamiment and creating Your Show of Shows

Dick Smith

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Dick Smith on Sid Caesar

Mel Tolkin

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Mel Tolkin on the talents of Imogene Coca on Admiral Broadway Revue and later on Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on the talents of performer/writer Carl Reiner on Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on his first impressions of Sid Caesar, who he met on Admiral Broadway Revue, and on their relationship
Mel Tolkin on Admiral Broadway Revue and later Your Show of Shows producer Max Liebman
Mel Tolkin on the talents and temperament of performer Howard Morris on Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on the creation of Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on his mother visiting him on Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on his writing partner Lucille Kallen working on Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on working with Mel Brooks on Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on working with Tony Webster and Joe Stein on Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on Danny and Neil Simon writing for Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on the most memorable sketches on Your Show of Shows and the types of sketches they did
Mel Tolkin on how much of Your Show of Shows was improvised on-camera, and on the "This is Your Story" sketch
Mel Tolkin on the pantomime segments of Your Shows of Shows, and on where he was when the show was airing
Mel Tolkin on Your Show of Shows being sued over their satire of "From Here to Eternity"
Mel Tolkin on the pressure of working on Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on the end of Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on the talent of the writing staff of Caesar's Hour, and on comparing it to Your Show of Shows
Mel Tolkin on attending a reunion of the writers of Your Show of Shows

Leslie Uggams

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Leslie Uggams on appearing on Your Show of Shows and The Milton Berle Show as a child and her interactions with the performers and writers

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